Friday, November 30, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-40 in California

Interstate 40's time in California is spent entirely in the Mojave Desert. The cities of Needles, Ludlow and Barstow are connected by this interstate. Accommodations are scarce along this highway, so plan to stay in Needles or Barstow if necessary. Attractions in addition to the beautiful Mojave Desert include the Mitchell Caverns State Reserve, Amboy Crater, the Calico Mountains and Lake Havasu which is located near I-40 on the Arizona/California state line.

Be aware that all motorists will be stopped at a California Border Inspection Station when they enter California and will be inspected to make sure they are not bringing unwanted plants into the state. The Mojave Desert is an amazingly beautiful, yet desolate area. In driving through the desert, travelers should always make sure to have a full tank of gas and food and drink. In addition, they should prepare for hot weather during the day and cold weather at night.


Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I discuss I-40, I would recommend Exit 145 in Oklahoma City. Many hotels and restaurants were located at this exit and I felt safe in the area. This exit was very convenient for easily continuing west without the hassle of dealing with early morning rush hour traffic.

(Photo of Mojave Desert taken in 2011)
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Monday, November 26, 2012

On the Road: Hotel Availability & Sporting Events

No Vacancy in Red
No Vacancy in Red (Photo credit: Lomo-Cam)
Sometimes when I am traveling, I start to get tired, but I will decide to keep driving until I get to the next major city. I always think my chances of finding a hotel with available rooms are increased if I am looking in a big city. However, this is not true at certain times of the year. In those circumstances when I reach my destination and start to look for a hotel, I sometimes find that I am unable to find an available room. When I am tired, this is a frustrating situation. In my case the reason for the lack of rooms was a big sporting event taking place in the town. In some cities football games and basketball games draw huge crowds from the surrounding area. Staying at a hotel and partying are just as important to some sports fans as attending the game itself. Rooms can fill up fast.

Be aware of sporting events, holidays and other special events that can hinder the chances of finding a room. One way to avoid this situation is to check online to see if any rooms are available. If all the rooms are booked at most hotels, a special event is being held that will probably affect the vacancy at all hotels. Another option is to make a reservation, but if only a few rooms are available, the price will be high. The last option is to stay at a hotel in a smaller town that will not be affected by the event.


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Friday, November 23, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-40 in Arizona

The Tepees in Petrified Forest National Park i...
The Tepees in Petrified Forest National Park in northeastern Arizona, United States. View is toward the northwest from the main park road. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 40, which travels across the northern section of Arizona, offers a wide variety of amazing scenery from deserts to mountains. Cities linked by this highway include Holbrook, Flagstaff and Kingman. Keep in mind that cities with a variety of good hotel choices can be separated by great distances. I-40 intersects I-17 in Flagstaff and that city offers the best selection of hotels along this interstate in Arizona. North of this intersection is where I like to stay.

Arizona has shut down some of its rest areas.  In particular, the rest area west of Flagstaff is closed. My favorite place for gas on this stretch is Exit 9, which is the exit for Lake Havasu. I like to fill up the tank before I enter California and the Mojave Desert. Some of the beautiful attractions along this route include the Petrified Forest National Park, the Painted Desert, Meteor Crater, Sunset Crater, the Walnut Canyon National Monument, Lake Havasu and the Grand Canyon National Park.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I discuss I-40, I would recommend Exit 145 in Oklahoma City. Many hotels and restaurants were located at this exit and I felt safe in the area. This exit was very convenient for easily continuing west without the hassle of dealing with the early morning rush hour traffic.
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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On the Road: Hotel Ratings

Tripadvisor Nantucket
Tripadvisor Nantucket (Photo credit: stevegarfield)
When I am trying to choose the hotel where I want to stay, I go on sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp to find out what people have to say about their experiences at the hotel. Before I leave on my trip I do my research and make a list of possible places to stay. I try to have a few hotels listed for each city where I could possibly stop and also jot down the ratings for each.

When I read the ratings for hotels, I pay particular attention to the negative ones. They give me an idea of what problems travelers may have encountered at a particular hotel. For example, I was considering several hotels in one city and looked over the ratings. I found that some of the hotels were located near a train track and the reviewers felt the trains disrupted a good night's sleep. I would not have known how close the train tracks were to the hotel had I not read about it in the reviews. I do realize that some negative reviews can be written by rival staff from another hotel, but I also feel that sometimes a few of the good ratings are written by the hotel's employees. They are just one source of information. Reading the reviews on several sites gives me a variety of additional input that assists me in making a good decision about lodging.
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-40 in New Mexico

English: All Images used are from Wikipedia Co...
English: All Images used are from Wikipedia Commons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 40 provides a scenic drive across the state of New Mexico. I-40 passes through the cities of Tucumcari, Santa Rosa, Albuquerque , Grants and Gallup. Sometimes cities with a good choice of hotels are few and far between in this area, so be careful in planning where to stay. Attractions along this highway include the Sandia Peak, Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave, the Enchanted Mesa, the El Morro National Monument and the Zuni Mountains. (I never know where to stay in Albuquerque. I always make the wrong choice! Any suggestions would be appreciated!)

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I discuss I-40, I would recommend Exit 145 in Oklahoma City. Many hotels and restaurants were located at this exit and I felt safe in the area. This exit was very convenient for easily continuing west without the hassle of dealing with early morning rush hour traffic.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On the Road: Hotel Discount Coupon Books

Traveling to Florida in the 90's, we would see billboards along I-95 for discount hotel rooms. When we would stop at the particular hotel, we were always told the discount rooms were gone. That is why I never paid attention to the hotel discount coupon books that were available at rest areas. I always thought they were just a gimmick to get people to stop at the hotel.

One year while driving to California, I decided to look at the books and try one of the coupons. It worked! I have used the Room Saver and Travel Buddy coupons with success every time since then. These coupons can also be obtained online. Since some of the rest areas on certain interstates have been closed, finding the coupon books has been a little more challenging, so the online option is a big plus.


Of course, one can always book reservations online. I do not like to do this because I do not want to be held to a certain destination. If I am tired, I will stop early. If I am feeling great, I will continue for as long as I can. In any event, if the decision to make a reservation is made, travelers should make sure to carefully check the details of the cancellation policy of the hotel in case their plans change.

(Photo taken in 2012)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-40 in Oklahoma and Texas

Tenkiller Ferry Lake and dam.
Tenkiller Ferry Lake and dam. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Interstate 40 travels through the middle of Oklahoma and through the panhandle of Texas linking the major cities of Oklahoma City and Amarillo. One thing to keep in mind for I-40 as it continues west is that major cities are few and far between. The small towns along this route may have only one hotel. Take particular care in determining where to stay. Usually I stay in Oklahoma City on my way west. On my return trip east, I stay in Amarillo. My gas stops are Exit 75 in Amarillo and Exit 140 in Oklahoma. Attractions in Oklahoma include Tenkiller Lake, Red Rock Canyon State Park, Black Kettle National Grasslands and the Oklahoma City National Memorial for the victims of the bombing of the federal building. Sanford National Recreation Area and Palo Duro Canyon are located in Texas near this highway.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, since I am discussing I-40 in Oklahoma, I would recommend Exit 145 in Oklahoma City. Many hotels and restaurants were located at this exit and I felt safe in the area. This exit was very convenient for easily continuing west without the hassle of dealing with early morning rush hour traffic.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Preparation: Packing List Update

iPad is a Wi-Fi 64 GB version (another one beh...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In previous entries discussing the use of packing lists, I have posted both my list for packing and my list for tasks to accomplish in preparing for a lengthy trip. In addition, I have included information about using a dry erase board as another method that keeps me organized in my preparation. These posts have been very popular, so I want to update this information.

This year I became the proud owner of an iPad and an iPhone 5. These devices have helped me to become even more organized than I already was. A month ago my daughter showed me how she used her iPhone to keep her grocery list. She did not have to write down the items she needed on a piece of paper. She listed them on her iPhone and was able to check them off as she shopped.

I decided to use this technology for my packing list. A few weeks ago I took the time to type my lists into the Reminders section of the iPad. The list has a small box in front of each item, so I was able to click on the box for each article as I packed it. For example, I had the new packing list for Baltimore ready to use on the iPad. As I packed each article, I checked the box and the item disappeared from that list and reappeared on the Completed section list. When I was finished with my packing, I was able to click the objects back onto the original list. The list was then ready for the next time I had to pack.

Since I have a MacBook, the iPad and the iPhone, my lists are available on each device. If I am running errands and want to check to see if I need anything for the trip while I am out, I just check the phone. When I complete the task, I check it off and that action appears on all three devices.

If I am able to do this, anyone in the world should be able to handle it. (Those who know me would completely agree with that statement!)


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Friday, November 2, 2012

Your Favorite Interstate Exits: I-40 in Arkansas

English: Aerial view of the Hernando de Soto B...
English: Aerial view of the Hernando de Soto Bridge across the Mississippi River between Memphis, Tennessee and West Memphis, Arkansas, USA. The bridge was opened in 1973 and carries six lanes of Interstate-40 across the river. View is from the Arkansas side to the east-southeast across the river to Memphis. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
After crossing the Mississippi River from Memphis, Interstate 40 continues its journey west into Arkansas. I-40 travels through the middle of the state linking the cities of West Memphis, Forest City, Little Rock and Fort Smith. Along this highway are many beautiful state parks including Petit Jean State Park, Devil's Den State Park and Mount Nebo State Park. Interstate 40 also passes through the Ozarks with the Boston Mountains located to the north with the White Rock Wildlife Management Area.

Please share with other drivers your experiences as to which exits are best for single travelers or anyone for that matter. Reasons for the choice may include the safety of the surrounding area, the availability of good hotels and restaurants or proximity to the interstate. Please make sure to give the exit number or a description of the location. For example, when I discuss I-40, I would recommend Exit 145 in Oklahoma City. Many hotels and restaurants were located at this exit and I felt safe in the area. This exit was very convenient for easily continuing west without the hassle of dealing with early morning rush hour traffic.
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